Bruce Springsteen looking forward to the magic of two Dublin dates

‘In two years, my band will have been playing for 50 years. That's really something’

Bruce Springsteen© Invision

American rock legend Bruce Springsteen performs on stage at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in South East London, Monday 26 May 2003. PA Photo by Myung Jung Kim © PA

Bruce Springsteen for Shuffle Nov 21 Eddie copy

Springsteen with our man Eddie Rowley

Bruce pictured in Burdocks during a trip to Ireland

Bruce Springsteen Singer Picture: Promotional handout Columbia

Eddie RowleySunday World

Rock superstar Bruce Springsteen, who is set to play two shows at Dublin’s RDS Arena next May, says that performing live is “probably still the best thing I do.”

The Boss, who has also just released a new album of soul classics called Only The Strong Survive, hasn’t performed on tour for six years.

But the 73-year-old icon tells how playing live at the recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame event in the States made him realise what he was missing.

“It's just the excitement of playing live again, seeing what it feels like. I realised you get out there and suddenly all those muscles come to the front again, and you go yeah, this is so natural me,” says Bruce who has been touring with the E Street Band for nearly 50 years.

American rock legend Bruce Springsteen performs on stage at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in South East London, Monday 26 May 2003. PA Photo by Myung Jung Kim © PA

“I'm so comfortable on stage, and having that give and take, and it's so much fun for me that I realise it's been six years, so I miss it and I'm ready to get back into it.”

Bruce admits that gearing up to go back out on the road is a bit of a struggle every time because it means having to leave his happy home life behind him for several months.

“You’re always anxious about leaving home,” he admits. “My home life is so great and I get anxious about leaving, but then you have that moment where you just exchange that energy with the audience, and you look out and you see the faces that you've looked out at for 50 years.

“In two years, my band will have been playing for 50 years. That's really something. That's a long time. So it's richer now than it's ever been, really. It's quite wonderful. It's just who I am. It's who I've been since I was a teenager and it's still where I go to find myself.

"It's one of the main places I go to find myself and that still happens every night when I come out on stage, so it's quite wonderful. It's lovely.”

Springsteen with our man Eddie Rowley

Springsteen also tells how keeping his musicians challenged is the key to their longevity.

“I'll start out with the set list I'll send the band, and it'll be, of course, a lot of our classic stuff, and then whatever I'm thinking about or working on at the moment,” Bruce explains.

“I like the show to start and not stop, so we don't take very much of a break between songs. Max Weinberg (drummer) has a brutal job to do because literally he starts and he doesn't stop for three hours. I'll get to stop at least to go, "One, two, three, four." I get to stop for 10 seconds.

“After an initial run of, I don't know, some shows, the set list will start to change pretty dramatically night after night. And I'll sit backstage an hour or two before we play, I just write something out, thinking about how things are going to transition, go from one to another. Thinking about maybe if we're two nights in the same town, what do we do tonight that we didn't do last night for kids that come back and folks that come back to hear us again. And it's just very free flowing.

Bruce pictured in Burdocks during a trip to Ireland

“Literally, I'll sit down a couple hours before the show, or sometimes just a half hour, and then I'll send it into the band so they have a chance to refresh things that they may not have played in quite a while. Quick, get in there and relearn this one.”

Springsteen’s latest album, Only The Strong Survive, came out of lockdown and is a collection of 15 soul music greats, that in addition to the title track includes Do I Love You (Indeed I Do), Nightshift, Don't Play That Song, Turn Back The Hands Of Time and When She Was My Girl.

“I'd just written a record for the E Street Band, Letter to You, so I knew I wouldn't be writing in a while,” Bruce says. “But there was nothing going on, so I said well, maybe I'll just record and I'll do something I hadn't done very much at all, which is sing somebody else's songs.”

After discarding a batch of songs he initially recorded, Springsteen settled on a collection of soul music when he finished the Motown rarity, Do I Love You.

“I said well, maybe I'll orient myself towards soul music, because it's how I grew up, and all my great mentors were soul men…Sam Moore and, of course, James Brown, Smokey Robinson as a writer. I mean just so many. And the great singers, David Ruffin, Levi Stubbs. They were all my masters and I said, well, let me try and sing some of this material. And when I got into it, I just found I had a good feeling for it and it was very joyful.

“The music that wasn't weighed down thematically about life, death, politics, the state of the union. It was purely the joy of making music and having fun. And I think that's what the record gets across so I'm excited about that.”

Bruce Springsteen’s new album, Only The Strong Survive, is out now. He plays Dublin’s RDS Arena next May 5 & 7, with tickets now on sale.

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